Being Busy


It is about to get busy… and Americans love to be busy. Although we often complain about it, we really like it. It is part of the mythology we create for our lives. We believe we are busy (which is somehow connected to our sense of importance) and we act accordingly. As my life has become increasingly complex — trying to parent six kids (including three teenagers), shepherd hundreds of leaders, develop our organization, stay married and still nurture my own growth and personal relationship with God - I find that "busyness" is often hollow. Maybe we are adrenaline addicts, or maybe we are too self-important to just sit down and admit when we don’t have anything to do. Whatever the cause, most of us don’t need to be that busy.

Still, as I add work and responsibility to my own life, I realize a lot of what I used to spend my time on was - one could say - less than critical. I am tedious enough that I will find somewhere to invest my uninvested moments, even if (in an honest analysis) those things are trivial and possibly even pointless.

Just think of all the time we spend configuring things. We use technology to be more productive (this is part of the mythology) but the technology often keeps us busy with everything but being productive. It's not a paradox, it’s a contradiction that we are blind to. Social media, for example, has changed the nature of our relational lives. We are always connected, but rarely is that connection fruitful or strategic. Our eyes engage hours of images without souls, our ears listen to an endless barrage of messages without meaning, and this results in our hands and feet being busy working on tasks without purpose.

Ironically, it is what I think the Bible would call restlessness. While we are called to labor even to the point of death for the sake of the kingdom, we are also (strangely) called to enter into the rest of God. Because a life lived with meaning and purpose is actually a life of rest, even in the midst of great labor. Part of Revelation’s description of an eternal life without God is unbroken restlessness. You could say that is a fair description of the modern life, busy but restless. Like we are looking for something, and busyness is an expression of that emptiness that frenetic activity cannot fill but at least it keeps us from remembering it.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not against being busy. It would be hypocritical for me to call people to just slow down or to take life easy. I like going fast, and I like doing a lot in the course of a day, although I do think there is a lot to learn from slowing down. Still, I think I was made for speed. I want to do as much as I can, however I also want those tasks to matter. The issue is not being busy, it is what we are busy doing. There is so much going on around us but nothing of consequence. We work but we are restless doing it. When we are busy for the kingdom we sleep soundly because our bodies are in motion but our hearts are at peace.

Last Sunday I challenged us to live for life. To live as if our lives mattered. I still can’t stop thinking about William Wilberforce. That tiny man (5’3” and about 100lbs) who probably couldn’t have beaten my 12 year old in a fight but who took on the strongman of slavery, and through the exertion of a life lived with purpose, he won. See what I mean?

God does not just want to save us, he wants to use us - and in the same way that the love of God expressed in Jesus on the cross makes your life infinitely valuable, so does his call into mission make the living of your life of infinite value to others. He saves you for a purpose, and his resurrection does not just mean that you can beat death - you can also beat a pointless life. Futility is not the destiny of those who know and obey God.

So focus your life on the things you know matter. On the things you know he has called you to. Get busy; just get busy doing what you know God has called you to. Don’t just get your kids ready for school, disciple them. Don’t just do your job, do it in a way that glorifies the God you serve. Don’t just go to class, be a missionary on campus. Don’t just workout or play sports, join a gym or sports team so that you can introduce others to Jesus.  Don’t just own a house, make your house the center of your neighborhood where all are welcome and real community happens. Then your busyness will matter and your heart will be at rest.

It is about to get busy. Make it count.


Brian Sanders